Before I start this blog let me be very clear, I know there are many companies who either get it or are trying. This isn’t aimed at them, this is more about getting more on board to understand.
It seems almost daily I read an article that breaks my heart about how an autism family has been treated poorly, in a public place. I shake my head each and every time. I get so frustrated that so many just don’t want to take the time to find out what little adjustments they can do to make life so much easier. I wish those who do try would also listen to many of us parents of Autistic kids, teens and adults. It frustrates me that we get “lumped in” as a special needs block… Autism is diagnosed as autism for a reason….while there are no 2 autistic kids alike, we do share some commonalities that could be discussed. Listening to us parents who live 24/7 with our child do have ideas and suggestions that are worthy of many companies’ time. This post is not meant as a lecture rather than as a call for those reading it to join together and see what changes we truly can bring forward.
My frustration comes not only from the fact that many businesses don’t listen or try to understand, but also from the lack of what I find at times of “strength in numbers” Several months ago I was having a discussion with a woman whose grandson has been diagnosed on the spectrum. His mother didn’t want to “deal” with him, so she was raising him. We got into the discussion of many companies and their lack of understanding of hiring Autistic teens and adults……I told her about my latest project, Awesome Netcademy and how we are planning to work with companies. She looked at me with a stare and said well good luck…it won’t happen. I thought to myself…you’re exactly right..it won’t if we all adopt her attitude of ‘it’s unattainable so let’s just give up’. I am strong-willed and bull-headed, I know that…but I also know that if I rely on others to make my sons and many like him, lives better…I am failing so many. I have and will continue to fight for my son and so many other autistic families. I, unlike some others I have connected with, want to work with other autism families, activists etc…it saddens and angers me that some in the “community” are more about promoting themselves than being a unified voice for so many. I live by the adage of if you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with Autism, but having said that there is common ground. Peyton’s needs, wants, desires etc…are different than others but I do know this, I live with him and I know what he needs and if just my fighting for him helps others then I have been beyond successful. I feel the same way about other parents, they know what their child needs and if we work together many of these needs will be addressed. If companies don’t want to understand/accept etc…that we are a growing segment then it is up to us to get them to “hear” us! Together our voices are stronger! There is much to be done in many ways, the least of which is helping get so many autistic teens and adults jobs.
I realize this blog is a bit of a “thought rambling” but I hope what you take away from it is this… While our day-to-day struggles may not be identical we do have way more in common than that which we don’t. These commonalities should draw us together. Let’s show businesses we are a strong voice and we want to be heard so that our kids will have a better future. Won’t you join us in working together to make a difference for so many? Would love to get feedback, suggestions as well as examples of companies doing it right!
See also: My Passionate Campaign for Autism